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Cycling in Copenhagen
a city on wheels
Part of our Low Carbon Copenhagen project ... project index >
introduction  •  how + why cycling started  •  cycling culture  •  City Bikes
transport integration  •  sources
key facts  •  urban planning timeline  •  pedestrianisation timeline  •  Denmark timeline
Cycling culture
Denmark has a culture of cycling and Copenhagen is no exception.
It's true that local government promotes cycling and considers it one of the key elements in the city's urban planning and its transport network. But more than that, cycling in Copenhagen is inextricably bound up with everyday life. And there's a thriving subculture connected with it too.
The City of Copenhagen issues a biennial Bicycle Account, reporting statistics for the previous period, progress on cycle projects and setting out the aims for the next period. You can download the 2008 Bicycle Account at http://kk.sites.itera.dk/2008.pdf (2.7Mb).
Cycling in Copenhagen
To Copenhageners, cycling is 'cool'. There are reportedly more cycles in the city than people. Danish children are expected to learn to ride before they enrol in school and people cycle everywhere as a matter of course — for business and for pleasure. Copenhagen lends itself to cycling because it is relatively level and not that big — you could see the whole city from a bicycle in a couple of hours. And the city has its free public bike scheme, City Bikes.
However, Danish adults are not keen on wearing helmets (children must wear them by law) and accidents do happen. Copenhagen aims to halve the number of cyclists seriously injured or killed (121 in 2008) by 2015, and significantly raise the proportion of cyclists reporting that they feel safe in traffic. This is part of the ongoing commitment to improving the cycle network, and cycling-friendly measures form part of the cty's transport integration policies.
One small example of the positive approach taken by the authorities is the provision of railings at some traffic lights. A high rail is provided for cyclists to lean against and a parallel low rail for resting your foot. All over Copenhagen, lamposts and signposts are worn on one side at cyclist height!
A quick glance at websites such as the blog site www.copenhagenize.com and the social forum ibikecph.dk shows that Copenhagen's citizens have not only embraced cycling but are playful with their approach to it too. Copenhagen is well-established in the subculture of global cycling. There's a cultural thing about the actual bikes as well. All kinds of variations can be seen on the streets. One success story is the cargo bike, which has a covered pod on small wheels at the front. One in four Copenhagen families owns one.
In June 2010, Copenhagen hosted the cycle planning conference Velo-city Global 2010, organised by the European Cyclists' Federation, the City of Frederiksberg and the City of Copenhagen.
An increase in cycling contributes to low carbon Copenhagen through the consequent drop in vehicle use (and therefore fuel burning) and the reduced need for mass transit systems, which mostly rely on electricity or fossil fuels for power. The Danes also value it very highly for its own sake — for the contribution it makes to the life of the city ..... next >
Top links
Copenhagen is the City of Cyclists   www.kk.dk/cityofcyclists.aspx
City of Copenhagen's cycling information site
Cycle Chic   www.copenhagencyclechic.com
Danish blog site for all things chic in cycling
Cycling Embassy of Denmark   www.cycling-embassy.dk
A network of organisations working together to promote cycling everywhere
City of Cyclists   http://kk.sites.itera.dk/681_GektAxfnoq.pdf
Pdf brochure by the City of Copenhagen
The Bicycle Mayor - Klaus Bondam : interview   http://vimeo.com/3103723
Bondam explains the City of Copenhagen's plans
YouTube   www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXznapqmulE
Bike culture in the city, including bike developments such as the cargo bike
YouTube   www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Q5jdZjmoR0
Cycling in the snow — residents interviewed on cycling in below zero temperatures
Take a virtual tour around the cyclist's Copenhagen ...
introduction  •  how + why cycling started  •  cycling culture  •  City Bikes
transport integration  •  sources
key facts  •  urban planning timeline  •  pedestrianisation timeline  •  Denmark timeline
project team  Jane Joyce, Eleanor Knowles, Nick Simons, Clare Sims, Paul Weston
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"I have a big head
and I would look silly."
Mayor Klaus Bondam on not wearing a cycle helmet, 2007
"The bicycle is universal. I know many people who have never even tried sushi, but I don't know anyone who can't ride a bicycle."
Mikael's blog post, 2010, comparing marketing concepts
Fact file : Copenhagen
men who cycle to work  17%
women who cycle to work  36%
children who cycle to school  45%
families with a cargo bike  25%
adult cyclists who wear helmets  15%
Danish households with no car  44%
More interesting facts
— In a 2008 survey of local bike riders, 90% thought Copenhagen a city for cyclists (an increase from 70% in 1996). But people felt a little less safe than in earlier years.
— Only 50% thought the city was effective at combining cycling with public transport. Just 30% thought the condition of roads and provision of bike parking was good.
— In 2008 in Copenhagen, the cost of buying and running a car per kilometre travelled was almost seven times more than for a bicycle.
— Abandoned bicycles are an issue and the Traffic Department removes them ... 8,000 were taken off the city streets in 2008.
— Alcohol is a major factor in bike accidents, particularly where a single rider is involved.
— More Copenhageners cycle in fine weather ... around 40% more in summer than winter.